Beer Monopoly



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On our own behalf – The Beer Monopoly on the Forbes List „Best Booze Books of 2017“

We are speechless. Surprised. Humbled. Incredibly grateful. Our book The Beer Monopoly appears on this year`s Forbes List "Best Booze Books". No, no, it`s not the Forbes Rich List. Fat chance of us ever getting on to that one. The list was compiled by Tara Nurin and can be found here >>


Posted March 2018

USA – Brewers fear job losses over introduction of aluminium tariff

Within hours of President Trump announcing a plan to put a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminium, the Big Brewers in the US through their lobby group, the Beer Institute, responded, saying that the tariff could cost the beer industry 20,000 jobs.

I saw a report earlier today upwards of 140,000 jobs could be lost in this country. We think the estimate for beer is about 20,000, that’s brewers, brewery workers, waitresses, bartenders [and] truck drivers,” Jim McGreevy, CEO of the Beer Institute told media on 2 March 2018. Read on


United Kingdom – BrewDog and Diageo draw scorn over Women’s Day stunts

Thursday last week – 8 March – was International Women’s Day. To support women and their campaigns towards their fair share of the world, Diageo and BrewDog each launched one of their popular products in women-friendly packaging. Diageo brought out a special edition of its Johnny Walker Scotch, calling it Jane Walker, while Scottish craft brewer BrewDog released a satirical pink-branded “beer for girls”, which is basically a variation of BrewDog's Punk IPA with a pink label.

Whereas BrewDog hoped to draw attention to the lazy marketing efforts targeting the female market, especially in the brewing industry, Diageo’s Jane Walker exactly fell into this category. Read on


USA – Craft beer slowdown sends down prices for specialty hops

Hop growers and traders are used to extreme business cycles but the latest sharp decline in demand seems to have caught some unawares. As wrote the Financial Times (FT) in February 2018, a sharp slowdown in US craft beer sales growth has sent the speciality hop market from boom to bust.

The fall comes as growers both in the US, the world’s leading hop producer and exporter, and elsewhere have increased their planting areas to cope with rising demand. Read on



Canada – Liquor stores branch out into cannabis stores

Brewers will face serious competition from cannabis once sales of recreational cannabis become legal. While the global medical marijuana market is steadily increasing in size, the recreational marijuana market in Canada is about to explode.

The government initially targeted July 2018 as the date for allowing recreational marijuana, but it now looks as if sales will begin in September. Regardless, the market will soon open, and it could easily top CAD 5 billion (USD 4 billion) annually. For comparison, revenue from beer manufacturing in Canada was estimated at over USD 7 billion in 2017. Read on


Canada – Campus rules on alcohol and pot need to be rewritten

Good grief, the implications of legalising pot are mind-blowing. For example, when the new academic year begins in September, cannabis will be as legal as alcohol. This means that across Canada, universities have been trying to write new rules to reflect that.

As it is with alcohol sales, the legal age for possessing and buying pot will depend on the province and varies between 18 and 19 years. Hence students will be allowed to buy and consume it. The legal age to purchase alcohol is 21 across the US, as it is for cannabis in the nine states and Washington, DC, which have already legalised marijuana for recreational use. Read on


Canada – Brunswick Bierworks hires La Trappe brewmaster Lodewijk Swinkels

With great fanfare, Toronto’s Brunswick Bierworks announced the arrival of Lodewijk Swinkels as brewmaster and head of operations on 7 March 2018.

Mr Swinkels comes from beer royalty. Related to the Swinkels family, which owns the Dutch brewer Bavaria and ranked second in The Netherlands behind Heineken, he is a seventh generation brewer. For the past 14 years he has been the brewmaster at the Dutch De Koningshoeven Brewery (La Trappe), which is also controlled by the Swinkels. He has won numerous international brewing awards and established La Trappe's world-renowned barrel aging programme.

Brunswick Bierworks introduced a new concept to the brewing industry in Ontario with their partner brewing that is open to concept brewers (aka virtual brewers), as well as Canadian and international breweries. In other words, it is a contract brewer that is helping its partners produce high-quality beers for the Ontario market, which is Canada’s largest. Read on


Ireland – C&C pulls US distribution deal with brewer Pabst for ciders

Don’t bet on cider’s golden future in the US. As consumers switch to alcoholic sodas, cider sales continue to decline. After registering buoyant growth between 2011 and 2015, when volume sales quintupled from 500,000 hl to 2.5 million hl, 2016 proved a turning point. Volumes dropped 12 percent. The trend has continued in 2017, although figures are not out yet. In the first half of 2017, cider sales declined 9.7 percent, according to market research firm IRI. Read on


Italy – Craft brewers make BeerAttraction fair in Rimini their showcase

Thanks to Italy’s vibrant craft beer sector, the country has a beer trade show again. BeerAttraction’s predecessor Pianeta Birra, which was also held in Rimini, died several years ago, after the country’s Big Brewers pulled their support.

In its fourth year, BeerAttraction, which was held from 17 to 20 February 2018, seems to have firmly established itself. On show were Italian and international beer brands which were joined by food manufacturers in the fair’s special Food Attraction section. Read on


USA – Staff reductions at New Belgium

2018 could be a year of reckoning for many US craft brewers and New Belgium may not be the only one to let staff go. The seventh-largest US craft brewer (according to Beer Marketers Insights’ ranking) confirmed on 27 February 2018 that it has cut 28 jobs, accounting for around 4 percent of its workforce, at its breweries in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Asheville, North Carolina.

The redundancies are not based on a lack of business, the company stressed, but on an overambitious expansion plan begun in 2013 which is now proving unsustainable.

It said in a statement: “These changes were not driven by a decline in our business. … However, beginning in 2013, we expanded our staff to support a brewery about 40 percent larger than New Belgium is today, and we haven’t yet achieved our goals in the face of changing dynamics in craft brewing.”

Based on previous growth rates, the company had anticipated in 2013 that expanded distribution into all US states and additional capacity at its new Asheville brewery would lead to an increase in beer sales to the tune of about 1.3 million barrels. However, media report that New Belgium only produced 955,000 barrels (1.1 million hl) beer in 2017, down from 958,000 barrels in 2016. Read on


Germany – Brewer Radeberger to pay EUR 160 million fine for collusion

Allegedly the owners of Germany’s largest brewing group Radeberger finally saw sense and will accept a fine of EUR 160 million (USD 195 million), which was slapped on the brewer in 2014 for taking part in the German beer cartel between 2006 and 2008.

Radeberger Group is part of the Oetker Group, the privately-owned conglomerate which spreads from pizza to beer. Beer and non-alcoholic beverages contributed EUR 1.9 billion (USD 2 billion) to group turnover of EUR 11.7 billion in 2016. Oetker does not disclose profits.

However, insiders suspect that the fine equals at least three times Radeberger’s annual profits. In other words, the fine will hurt badly. Read on


Belgium – AB-InBev’s profits up on Brazil recovery and SABMiller savings

Thanks to Brazil rebounding after two tumultuous years in the region and the integration of SABMiller proceeding well, AB-InBev reported on 1 March 2018 that revenue increased 5.1 percent in 2017 to USD 56.4 billion (EUR 46.3 billion) while profits (EBITDA) rose 13.4 percent to USD 22.1 billion (EUR 18.1 billion). AB-InBev’s EBITDA margin stood at 39.1 percent in 2017.

Combined revenues of the company’s three global beer brands – Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona Extra – grew 9.8 percent year on year, with a 17.8 percent increase in the fourth quarter.

Total volumes saw an increase of 0.2 percent, with beer volumes up 0.6 percent and non-beer volumes down 3.1 percent. Read on


USA – Boston Beer saw sales decline again in 2017

That’s painful. Boston Beer reported a shipment decline of 6.2 percent in 2017, driven by shrinking sales of its Samuel Adams and Angry Orchard brands.

In an earnings report, released on 21 February 2018, the country’s sixth-largest beer company, which makes Samuel Adams beer, Angry Orchard Hard Cider, Twisted Tea, and Truly Spiked & Sparkling seltzers among other products, said it shipped about 3.8 million barrels (4.5 million hl) of product in 2017, compared with 4 million barrels in 2016. Boston Beer does not disclose sales per category.

It may be small consolation to Boston Beer that other major craft brewers registered sales declines in 2017 too. As says Beer Marketers Insights, Sierra Nevada had to stomach a volume drop of 5 percent, while Craft Brew Alliance and Deschutes saw declines steepen late in the year, ending with volumes down 8 percent and 10 percent respectively. Read on


USA – Craft beer exports could face slower growth

Looks like selling US craft beer abroad has become more of a challenge. And it’s not because of unfavourable currency swings. As anyone will know who follows Brauwelt’s newsletter, there is more competition from local craft brewers in many of the markets that US brewers are exporting into.

Growth rates have slowed down in recent years. After achieving a 36 percent hike in 2014 (over 2013) and another two-digit boost (16 percent) in 2015, the increase in US craft beer exports slowed to a mere 4.4 percent in 2016, totalling 465,617 barrels beer (544,000 hl) or USD 121 million. 2017 figures will be released by the Brewers Association (BA) soon.

While many US craft brewers have benefitted from participating in the BA’s export programme, a sizeable amount of beer export volumes must be attributed to just one brewery: Brooklyn. Read on

USA – Beer sales down 2.2 percent in 2017

The beer industry trade group, Beer Institute (BI), recently reported that US brewers lost ground to the tune of 3.8 million fewer barrels (4.5 million hl) in 2017. They only shipped 170 million barrels (199 million hl) beer, as opposed to almost 174 million barrels in 2016.

According to the BI, the 2.2 percent drop in beer shipments in 2017 represents the largest annual domestic beer volume decrease in 63 years. It is believed some of the losses can be attributed to consumers switching to imported beers, but evidence for that has to wait for beer import reports to come out later. Others blame the growth in wine and spirits consumption for the decline in beer sales.


USA – Will AB-InBev buy out Craft Brew Alliance?

The US rumour mill is working overtime that AB-InBev could buy out the listed craft brewer Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) from Portland, Oregon, with brands like Kona, Widmer Brothers and Redhook. AB-InBev already controls a 31.5 percent stake in the craft brewer, thanks to the old Anheuser-Busch having made an initial investment in Redhook in 1994 and in Widmer in 1998. Today the two are so enmeshed in each other’s affairs, analysts say, that it’s probably time the Big Brewer just took over the craft beer maker, lock, stock and barrel. Read on



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